Some 300 government officials, activists, historians and citizens came together Wednesday for commemorating the second memorial day for World War II sexual slavery survivors at the Kim Koo Museum in Yongsan, Seoul.
The government last year designated Aug. 14 Comfort Women Memorial Day. On that day in 1991, Kim Hak-soon, a South Korean victim of sex slavery, came forward and gave testimony on Japan’s wartime crimes.
Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee addresses some 300 guests at the memorial day for WWII sex slavery survivors Wednesday (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)
Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee said at the Wednesday event that the ministry pledges to come up with measures acceptable to the victims.
Mike Honda, a former US congressman, in a video address, commended the South Korean leadership “for recognizing the day Kim Hak-soon broke the silence,” calling it “a wonderful example to the world.”
Honda authored the US House of Representatives Resolution 121, adopted July 30, 2007, which called on the Japanese government to acknowledge and apologize for its history of wartime sex slavery.
The California congressman has visited the House of Sharing, a shelter for sex slavery victims in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, about five times, according to the shelter’s Director Ahn Shin-kwon.
“Congressman Honda thanked the survivors for their bravery, and told them their testimonies will help restore justice,” Ahn told The Korea Herald.
In another video address, Frank Quintero, a Glendale City Council member, said, “I look forward to these commemoration events that remind the United States and the rest of the world of all the atrocities ... that young girls were taken by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War.”
Eight survivors have died since last year’s memorial day. Twenty known survivors remain.
Michael Honda with two Korean WWII sex slavery victims, Lee Ok-sun (left) and Kang Il-chul (The House of Sharing)
Former US congressman Mike Honda shakes hands with Lee Ok-sun (The House of Sharing)